If you've spotted a large mural in east London, chances are it was arranged by Global Street Art’s Walls Project. The organisation is now approaching its 500th street art mural. We asked GSA's Lee Bofkin to look back at some of the most popular pieces. Here’s what he had to say:
We started the Walls Project in March 2012 without a plan – many of my artist friends were painting the same legal walls again and again and their pieces didn’t last. Asking permission for new spots takes time, which isn’t easy if you live in another part of town, have a full-time job or come to London from another country. So we started asking people if our friends could paint their shutters, walls, trucks and doors.
Londonist helped, too.
It was slow at first but as we built up more of a track record we found that more and more people were open to having their walls painted. We still organise a lot of free art walls but today we also work with brands to produce commercial projects and paint private interiors.
We’re always looking for more walls and new partners. If you think you can help
please get in touch! In the meantime, here are some of the most popular pieces we’ve organised. Enjoy!
Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada (Cuba/USA): this piece is only a few weeks old. Jorge had a long weekend in London and only one free day to paint. We had only a days’ notice but we called a friend Tim and he gave us a wall! Another friend Mark ferried Jorge around London to get paint and materials. We arrived on site at 10am and Jorge changed his plan – he was going to paint his daughter but he decided to paint one of the local children playing in the car park instead. We took photos of Okiki for the mural and after a little photoshopping, the mock-up was ready to go. Jorge started painting at midday and carried on through until 11 that night. One of the ladies who came to see the mural was so moved she choked back her emotions. Bussey Building, 133 Rye Lane, Peckham – still there.
Cyrcle (USA): this is our most recent large-scale piece, organised with the help of Stolen Space Gallery and the artists themselves. It’s an epic piece on the side of the Griffin pub featuring Greco-Roman statues painted upside down. The piece was painted by Rabbi from Cyrcle (a two-artist collective) using a giant projector – the amount of time he spent painting each individual dot on the piece was amazing. He really sacrificed for this piece. The Cyrcle show is on now at Stolen Space! Leonard Street opposite the Book Club – still there.
Faith 47 (South Africa): this is the tallest piece we’ve organised at around 4-5 floors high. Despite the size, Faith painted this piece in just one weekend using a cherry picker. The Madonna figure is holding a swan in her arms. If you’re lucky enough to catch the piece when it’s in direct sunlight it practically glows. Faith used gold spray paint around the piece and the effect is amazing. The effect of the changing ambient light is something you would rarely see in a gallery. Leonard Street opposite the Book Club – still there.
Fintan Magee (Australia): after the first couple of hundred walls, Londonist kindly asked its readers if they’d give us more walls. A lady from a co-working space in Dalston ended up giving us a bunch of walls in their car park. This piece, by Australian artist Fintan Magee, was the largest of around 10 murals we painted there. It depicts one man adding the roof onto an Australian Queenslander house while a second man with a hammer sits on the other side. Bootstrap Company car park near Abbott Street, Dalston – still there.
Paintstock: Elephant and Castle has a local arts festival, Elefest, each year. One of the festival’s organisers, Rob Swain, went to great lengths to get approval for a 65m stretch of a building site hoarding. In the end we had 24 hours between the final go-ahead and painting the boards. The artists who painted included London graffiti legends Tizer and Noir, gonzo-stencilists Id-iom and 616, who is a weirdo! Thank you to property-developers Delancey for supporting with materials. New Kent Road, near Elephant and Castle Ral Station – still there.
Phlegm (UK): this was the first wall we organised. The owners of the Rag Factory are sympathetic friends and art lovers so they were happy to give us their wall; we used to organise festivals there. Phlegm came down from Sheffield and painted the piece over three sunny days on a very big ladder. The wall was blank before, save for a little messy graffiti some kids had put up. The mural lifts the whole corner and turned the space from a boring alleyway into a popular stop for the street art tours. 16 Heneage Street – far wall of the Rag Factory – still there.
7. Rone (Australia): last December Rone came over from Australia and was looking for a big wall. We know the owners of the car park well and they were happy to let us paint again. Rone figured out the proportions for the face by counting the bricks. It worked perfectly! The old bricks soaked up a lot of the paint so the mural looks a lot older than it actually is. There’s also a piece by LA’s Hueman below the Rone mural. Leonard Street opposite the Book Club – still there.
Southbank Murals (all UK artists): before the Southbank Centre’s Urban Arts Weekend last summer we popped down and started looking for spaces we could paint. It’s a Grade 1 listed building but there were a lot of blank wooden panels they were happy to give us. The Southbank paid for materials and had a little left over for each artist. This is one the most prestigious space we’ve painted and it was important that, for the first time at least, every artist was from the UK. We have an abundance of talent in the UK and we wanted to spotlight that. Walls were painted by Dank, The Lost Souls (Si Mitchell, Captain Kris, Squil and SPzero76), 3Dom, Spore and Zadok, Pref, Solo One and Ben Murphy in a wide range of styles. To quote The Souhtbank, the artists ‘turned a thoroughfare into a destination site’. Southbank Centre, Queen Elizabeth Hall sliproad – still there.
Detail of one of the Southbank pieces, by Pref.
Spore and Macism (UK): at one point this mural looked doomed. Confusion between the landlord and the tenants coupled with highly suspect scaffolding gave us a start that was dodgier than a free kebab. Somehow the clouds parted and the painting began. For four days the two Scottish lads (who had driven from somewhere where spraypaint is normally brought in on a fishing boat) clambered up and down the scaffolding getting this done. It’s a great mural. Near 23 Heneage Street – still there.
Alice Pasquini (Italy): this was the first time we painted with Alice on a street where we’ve put up around 15 pieces. Alice’s art is always popular and this piece was no exception. It was snowing when she came over and I think the cold weather influenced her colours a lot. Sadly, the owners of the building buffed the piece out when they were repainting the rest of the wall white. White Church Lane – gone but there are plenty of other pieces still on the street.
All photos by Lee Bofkin for Global Street Art except Paintstock and Cyrcle pictures (by LDN Graffiti and Cyrcle respectively).
Last Updated 11 March 2014